Title text: I read in this one article that the breaking of electroweak symmetry is the reason we have SOULS. This guy with a degree said so!
In the beginning of the comic, Megan is trying to break a wine glass like an opera singer. This is a rather famous trick where the vocalist sings at the resonant, or natural frequency of the glass and cause it to resonate more and more until it can no longer handle the stress and breaks - for more info, see the Mythbusters episode about the Earthquake Machine. If the resonant frequency of the glass is outside of the singer's range, then putting some water in the glass will lower its resonant frequency. This effect can be used to play different notes on the rim of a glass by varying the amount of water in it. For example, see this video.
While Megan is trying to break the glass by hitting its resonant frequency, she is actually creating something new. This is similar to particle physics where a new particle can be identified by a resonance peak in the differencial cross-section of a scattering experiment: Known particles plus some very specific amount of energy lead to the creation of a new particle, the Higgs boson. This is represented in the comic with the water and the pitch of Megan's voice creating blood.
The term "God Particle" was coined in 1993 by physicist Leon M. Lederman to describe the Higgs boson because it's "central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive." He originally called it the "goddamn particle", but this was considered offensive, and his editor shortened it to just "God particle", maybe to promote interest in the particle from non-academics too. Many people misinterpret the name to be some kind of link between physics and religion, so physics is getting back at them by playing pranks that resemble famous miracles from Christian tradition:
- Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage in Cana.
- The first of the ten plagues in Egypt turned all of the water into blood — the rivers, canals, ponds, pools, and every sort of container holding water.
- The wine turning into blood is also a reference to the Catholic ritual of Transubstantiation.
Notably, the Higgs Boson was discovered in 2012, 2 years after this comic was released. So at the time, physicists were still looking for the particle.
Notice that, in the last panel, the blood seems to have dripped out of Cueball's glass onto the table and solidified instantly, further proof that physics doesn't apply in this scenario.
The title text refers to the breaking of electroweak symmetry. It used to be thought that mirroring the result of any scenario would always give the same outcome as the result of the mirror of that scenario. However, it turns out that the details of the electroweak force (the electromagnetic and weak forces put together) refute this theory. As with many scientific theories, these can be used incorrectly in order to lend credibility to unrelated and nonsensical claims. This particular case is an instance of "quantum woo." Similarly, a degree can be used to lend the appearance of credibility to a person pushing such an idea, regardless of what field it was earned it or whether said person has any competence.
- [Megan is singing, Cueball is staring at a glass of water on a table.]
- Megan: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... Anything break?
- Cueball: No, but the water in the glass turned to wine.
- [Cueball picks up glass]
- Megan: Weird.
- Cueball: No, wait. This is blood.
- Megan: Okay, physics, quit fucking with us.
- Physics: You stop looking for the Higgs boson and we'll talk.
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